Matthew W. Quinn is a writer of speculative fiction including science fiction, fantasy, and of course, horror. His works include I am the Wendigo and Nicor. In this interview he discusses how he got into the field and where some of his inspirations come from.
What got you into the field of writing?
MWQ: I’ve been a writer as far back as I can remember. When I was a little kid in the 1980s, I remember drawing my own versions of the CALVIN AND HOBBES comics and writing an original story on my grandmother’s typewriter about dinosaurs living in the River Thames in London wearing diving helmets. I started writing short stories in third grade (I think) on my family’s then-new desktop computer, which used Windows 3.1.
Would you talk a little about your personal experience with the horror genre?
MWQ: My interest in the horror genre goes that far back as well. When I was in preschool or very early elementary school, I wanted to see (and was not allowed to, which was almost certainly for the best) ARACHNOPHOBIA and GREMLINS 2. When I was in elementary school, I remember repeatedly reading my school’s set of the Crestwood House Monsters series, a set orange hardback books based on monster movies like Dracula, the Blob, King Kong, etc. Fellow millennial horror fans, if you’re feeling nostalgic and have money to burn you can find them on Amazon here.
You might say that “I am the Wendigo” dates back to that period as well. When I was in third grade I went on a bit of a cyrptozoology kick, reading all the school’s books on Bigtfoot, The Loch Ness Monster, etc. That’s when I first learned about what the Wendigo, which some Bigfoot scholars think is a Bigfoot-type creature. The difference is, the Wendigo is much more violent and overtly predatory toward humans, while most accounts of Bigfoot depict a far more gentle creature.
Your subject matters are always very unique. How do you decide what you’re going to write about?
MWQ: I draw inspiration from various sources. For example, my unsold scifi-horror novel THE THING IN THE WOODS was inspired by a scenario in a CALL OF CTHULHU role-playing manual I was reading in a Borders store about what might happen when “Lovecraft Country” gets suburbanized. My unsold fantasy-Western BATTLE FOR THE WASTELANDS started out when I read my father’s copy of Stephen King’s THE GUNSLINGER and wanted to write something like it myself. And my unsold bizarro-horror-comedy novel (that I’ll probably put out under a pseudonym) LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG GUNS started with this.
What was your inspiration for Nicor?
MWQ: I first started writing “Nicor“back in 2006 and first sold it in 2008 (to a magazine that went under before it could publish it, but that $0.01 per word came in handy when gas was $5 per gallon that summer) so I can’t remember all the details, but I remember the phrase “historical Beowulf.” Michael Crichton’s THE THIRTEENTH WARRIOR is similar in that respect, but my story is told from the point of view of a teenager who has never experienced war before and gets a particularly bloody introduction to it.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’re excited about?
MWQ: I have a novella entitled “Ten Davids, Two Goliaths” set in Lindsay Buroker’s FALLEN EMPIRE universe premiering in later April through Amazon’s Kindle Worlds program. The FALLEN EMPIRE world is basically modern Libya or Yemen IIIN SPAACE…the heroic rebels overthrew the tyrannical Emperor, but were unable to cement their authority across the former Empire. The Imperial die-hards still hold the old capital, the rebels control three planets, and the rest has fallen into warlordism, piracy, etc. “Ten Davids” takes place relatively early in the Rebellion and depicts a group of rebel fighter pilots ambushing a couple Imperial escort cruisers on a training mission. After that I’ve got a direct sequel focusing on the crew of one of the imperial cruisers based on the Battle of Ramree Island during World War II, only instead of a swarm of hungry crocodiles, it’s a mysterious alien predator. If those two do well, I’ve got two more independent stories planned for the FALLEN EMPIRE, including one involving zombies. I’m also trying to sell the three novels I mentioned earlier, and might end up going indie if I can’t find an agent or a publisher.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
MWQ: As far as advice for aspiring writers is concerned, I’ve got two major tips. Number one, keep producing. If you want to make a full-time living you’re going to have to have many projects generating income rather than just putting out something occasionally. My friend Jeff Baker once attended LibertyCon in Chattanooga and was told the way to make money as an indie writer was to “churn and burn.” Number two, join a writing group. I’ve been involved in two Atlanta area writing groups through meetup.com, one unfortunately defunct and the other still active. Writers always need another pair of eyes to see problems they might not notice on their own, and a writing group provides a regular set of extra eyes. They can also serve as a motivator — if I didn’t have a chapter written I’d commit to having something for the next group meeting in order to force myself to produce. That strategy is how I got BATTLE FOR THE WASTELANDS and THE THING IN THE WOODS finished, even though sometimes I have difficulty focusing.
Finally, I would recommend listening to a lot of writing podcasts. Some good ones are the Sell More Books Show, the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Marketing Podcast, and Writing Excuses. In addition to good advice, they can be good networking tools — I actually met Dan Wells from Writing Excuses at DragonCon and the SFFM Podcast is how I became acquainted with Lindsay Buroker.
Thanks to Matthew W. Quinn for taking the time to do this interview and providing all of the very helpful links. You guys can find out more about him and his work through his Amazon Page, Blog, or Twitter – and don’t forget to check out his awesome story Nicor, which is available to read online.